Clean water should not be hard to come by in today’s modern age, but it is in certain parts of the world. That includes areas of the United States – just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan. Water filtration can be difficult to understand if you’re a beginner, which is where the best water filter pitchers come in handy. These affordable filtration devices are capable of reducing a wide number of harmful contaminants, and our buying guide will show you how to find the best option for your household.
How a Water Filter Pitcher Works
Water filter pitchers are simple devices, and most use carbon-based or chemical filters to remove contaminants from your tap water even if there is a complex process going on behind the scenes. While you don’t get the instant gratification that comes from an under the sink water filter, you may be surprised by what the best water filter pitchers can remove.
When you fill the top portion of a pour-through filter pitcher, it enters a holding area with the filter. With somnne help from gravity, the unclean water flows through the filter where contaminants are trapped. Clean water trickles out of the filter and into a holding area below where it can be poured or dispensed with a lever or button.
How long it takes until you get a cup of clean water varies by the size of the pitcher and the quality of the filter. What they actually remove can differ from one pitcher to the next as well. Some pitchers can even mineralize your H2O to make it healthier or more palatable.
Do you need a Water Pitcher Filter?
The first step in deciding if you need a water filter pitcher is the quality of the water coming out of your tap. Does it have an odd color or odor? Well, a pitcher can clear up odors to a degree, but if your water has a brown tint, you may need a pre-filter for your home or a whole house filter.
Filtered pitchers are best suited for small to medium-sized families that want to improve the quality of their drinking water, but don’t necessarily have “poor conditions” to begin with. The Safe Drinking Water Act established guidelines for the United States in 1974, but that doesn’t mean the water coming out of your pipes is up to you or your family’s standards.
Basic filters will reduce chlorine, copper, and remove other particulates, but a multi-stage filter can handle fluoride, VOCs, and heavy metals. Again, if you have issues with water at the source or use well water, you may need something a little stronger than a pitcher.
Should I test my water before buying a pitcher?
If you’ve had issues in your area in the past or have a reason to believe your water quality is seriously tainted, get it tested first. While the EPA and other agencies set standards and check levels, issues like old lead pipes can cause more havoc than you can imagine.
Thankfully, there are hundreds of companies that sell water testing kits for home use, although some are a bit more accurate than others. Having your water tested locally by an independent lab is always the best option considering they can run a full test on your H2O. If you can’t find a local lab, there are reliable kits that will let you know if there’s copper, lead, bacteria, or chlorine in your water.
Water Filter Pitchers Pros and Cons
No matter how simple a device may seem, you always have to consider the advantages and disadvantages. That holds true with water filter pitcher pros and cons, so here’s what you can expect from these dispensers and pitchers.
Water Filter Pitcher Pros
Water Filter Pitcher Cons
Water Filter Pitcher Buying Guide
If you still think a water filter pitcher is the right choice, you’ll want to stick around. Our buying guide is going to touch on a few topics that we feel are critical, along with a few simple tips that could save you a significant amount of money down the line.
Water Filter Pitcher vs. Filtered Water Dispenser
Water filter pitchers are the most popular option for the fridge, but a filtered water dispenser should not be overlooked. This style has become more popular over the years, and while they aren’t for everyone, it’s important to know what they bring to the table.
A filtered water dispenser is larger than a pitcher and made to sit on a shelf. They hold more water than a pitcher and have a tap in the front, so you don’t have to remove them from the fridge to pour. Due to their size, they are ideal for families or homeowners that need filtered water for ice trays, coffee pots, and other appliances.
With a pitcher, you pour water from the top, but the design is the same when it comes to the filter chamber. As they are more popular, you’ll get a wider array of options if you want to mineralize your water or remove certain contaminants. They also give you more room in the fridge and typically hold between 5 to 10 cups.
Plastic, Metal and Glass Water Filter Pitchers
We aren’t going to spend much time on construction as you don’t need to worry about warranties with water filter pitchers. All dispensers and the majority of refrigerator pitchers are made from plastic. That said, there are two alternatives if you want something with a little more class than a standard Brita water filter pitcher.
Before plastic became popular, glass was the go-to material, and it’s still an excellent choice for water pitchers today. It’s easy to clean, durable, and you don’t have to worry about BPA. As for metal, stainless steel pitchers will stand out on the countertop or in the fridge.
On the downside, metal and glass water filter pitchers don’t use traditional filters and can have unusual designs that look good, but don’t hold much water. Finding a 10 cup pitcher is rare in either style and while we found a dozen or so high-quality glass pitchers, there are only a handful of stainless models.
A water filter pitcher is essentially a plastic container with a lid as the filter acts as the heart of your pitcher. That means it’s important to know exactly what they are capable of removing and what’s inside that plastic shell.
What’s in your filter tells you what it can reduce or remove, and a multi-stage filter obviously has more cleaning prowess than one just filled with activated carbon. Chlorine is the most common and easy to remove or reduce in your tap water, but VOCs and heavy metals can be harder to reduce with a simple carbon-based filter.
There are plenty of pitchers that can handle lead, copper, and VOCs, but not many can reduce fluoride. Even the best water filter pitchers can have a tough time with bacteria while cadmium and barium are better left to distillation or reverse osmosis systems.
There’s no definitive answer to “what can a water filter pitcher remove” considering manufacturers use their own filtration methods and can change what’s in their filters without much notice. If you are concerned about more than a little chlorine in your water, check out our guide to common contaminants found in tap water.
The first time you fill your new pitcher and taste refreshing filtered water, it can be exciting, especially if you’re tap water is particularly poor to begin with. Well, your smile can turn into a frown quickly once that filter’s lifespan comes into play.
Swapping out a spent water filter cartridge only takes a few seconds regardless of the style or size of your dispenser. The size of the filter and how many a pitcher uses varies as does their overall lifespan. In most cases, filters are rated for 2 to 3 months, but how often you use the pitcher directly affects filter longevity along with the overall quality of your water.
A family of four using a 10 cup pitcher will go through filters quicker than someone single, and you have to account for things like coffee pots or pets as well. Every manufacturer “should” give you a range on their filters measured in gallons, and companies like PUR and Brita have introduced filters like the Longlast which can give you up to 120 gallons of filtered water before needing to be replaced.
Water Filter Pitcher Capacity
We briefly touched on capacity in our pitcher vs. dispenser debate, and it’s the most important factor behind the filter itself. Capacity is measured in cup size, which gives you an idea of how many cups of water you’ll get before you need to refill the pitcher.
Most dispensers are built to hold between 18 to 26 cups which makes them considerably larger than a standard pitcher. Those are around 6 to 8 cups although we’ve seen smaller pitchers around 5 cups along with a few that exceed the 10 cup limit as well.
It’s also important to pay attention to the size of the pitcher itself. If you want to use it in the fridge door, it needs to be narrow, so a square design is better than a circular pitcher. A large 20 cup dispenser may seem like a great idea, but not it if takes up half your top shelf.
Ease of Use
As long as you’re capable of lifting and tilting a container of water weighing 5 to 10 pounds, you should have no problem using a standard water filter pitcher. If you have wrist issues, you may want to consider a smaller pitcher or dispenser, but most consumers shouldn’t have an issue.
Filter changes are also easy considering most simply slide into a slot or screw into place. When it comes to cleaning or filling a pitcher up, things can be a little trickier depending on the design. Cleaning a container won’t require much elbow grease, but the more crevices there are, the more places bacteria can grow.
On that note, the most common complaint we came across when researching water filter pitcher reviews from a consumer standpoint were due to poor design. The only real feature that makes life easier aside from a solid design is a timer or dial as a reminder for filter changes – something that’s hit or miss with some of the top models.
Safe Water Pitcher Filters
As we’ve learned more about how chemicals react to our bodies over time, we know things once deemed safe sometimes require a closer look. That’s why it’s important to think about what the pitcher, filter and other components of your water pitcher are made from.
The first term you’ll likely to encounter is BPA-free. BPA is commonly used as a lining in certain types of containers and a popular option for water bottles plates and toys. Well, research has shown that it can leech into food and water, which is why you’ll want a BPA-free water filter pitcher.
NSF certification is also something to look for when dealing with water filtration. Any product carrying this stamp of approval has been extensively tested by the National Sanitation Foundation, whereas the WQA only deals with water treatment products. They are an excellent place to find a filter for specific contaminants as well.
The main thing to remember is to look for a product that’s BPA-free with food-grade parts if you’re concerned about bisphenol A. That includes the filter along with the pitcher or dispenser, something to keep in mind if you plan to use an off-brand replacement filter.
The Best Water Filter Pitchers
When you spend enough time researching and reviewing water filter pitchers, one thing becomes clear quickly. There are more pretenders than contenders, which makes it difficult to find the best. Several top models didn’t make the cut due to outdated lab results and updated filters while others were left out due to serious design flaws. While we only chose 5 pitchers for those reasons, each brings something different to the table.
Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
- Filter Reminder: No
- Capacity: 10 cups
- Filter Life: 100 gallons
Seychelle pH20 Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
- Filter Reminder: No
- Capacity: 8 cups
- Filter Life: 200 gallons (dual)
Brita Ultramax Extra Large Dispenser
- Filter Reminder: Yes
- Capacity: 18 cups
- Filter Life: 120 gallons
Nakii Water Filter Pitcher
- Filter Reminder: Yes
- Capacity: 7 ½ cups
- Filter Life: 150 gallons
Zero Water Filter Pitcher ZP-010
- Filter Reminder: No
- Capacity: 10 cups
- Filter Life: 15 – 30 gallons
1. Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
The Best Water Filter Pitcher
A lot of companies claim to remove a certain percentage of particulates from your water, but only the best can back that up. The minds behind the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher make several bold claims, but we’re happy to say their lab results prove they have produced a top-tier product.
Clearly Filtered’s pitcher removes over 220 contaminants from your tap water. That includes common chemicals and heavy metals like copper, lead along with perfluorinated chemicals and microplastics. Are you worried about Fluoride? Well, it has a 96 - 98% removal rate against this mineral but can also handle microorganisms, cysts, and bacteria as well.
Having a filter capable of removing trihalomethanes and pesticides is great, but only if the container holding the water is safe. The pitcher is made food-grade materials that are BPA-free and the filters have been certified to meet or exceed NSF standards 42, 53, 244, 401 and 473. Their water filters are made in the USA and rated for 100 gallons, although they are not cheap.
The pitcher is durable with a streamlined design and guaranteed not to break or crack. There was an issue that made water difficult to pour, but the manufacturer recently updated this product, which alleviated the problem on all new models. The updated pitcher can be a little unwieldy, however, something to keep in mind if you have an issue with heavier pitchers.
This 10 cup pitcher is the most expensive on our list, but it’s also the most effective. While it may be overkill if you just need to deal with chlorine or a little copper, it’s the best all-around water filter pitcher in our opinion and consumers have been impressed as well.
2. Seychelle pH2O Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
The Best Alkaline Water Pitcher
Every pitcher on our list can remove substances from your water while improving its quality and taste. Some go a step further and mineralize your water, and the Seychelle pH2O alkaline water pitcher filter excels in that department.
One of the biggest draws of this pitcher is the fact it uses two filters. That means it can remove and reduce things that other filters can’t handle like selenium, mercury, benzene arsenic, and fluoride, just to name a few. The company has lab results posted on their site, but believe us when we say it can deal with a lot of contaminants.
The company’s Ionic Absorption Micro Filtration tech will help keep your tap water clean, but these filters also increase your water’s alkalinity. It can bump the pH up to 9.5 and decrease the acidity while adding beneficial minerals to your H2O. If you don’t need those minerals, you can also use a regular filter in the pitcher as.
Seychelle’s pitcher can clean 200 gallons of water before you need to change the filters and it’s of average size at around 11 inches high and 5.5 inches wide. You’ll lose a little capacity due to the dual filter setup, but it’s rated as an 8 cup pitcher. Consumers found it easy to clean, and while it performs as advertised, there are a few drawbacks.
The Seychelle pH2O is another premium pitcher that’s pricey, but worth it if you need to focus on specific contaminants and want to raise your pH levels. The replacement filters aren’t cheap either unless you buy the regular 2-pack, but they should outlast others as long as your water isn’t too foul.
3. Brita Ultramax Extra Large Filtered Water Dispenser
The Best Filtered Water Dispenser
Brita is one of the first names consumers turn to when they are looking for one of the best water filter pitchers for their fridge. While they have plenty of completion these days, they are still going strong. Our top pick from the company is the Brita Extra Large Dispenser which can filter 18 cups of water.
Brita’s big dispenser can hold a lot of water, but won’t take up a lot of space in the fridge. It’s the same height and width as most average-sized pitchers, just deeper as it’s over 14 inches long. The Ultramax is easy to assemble and maintain even if it can be a pain to get into a sink. As you’d expect, filter and tank are made from BPA-free plastic.
The classy black Brita Ultramax will look great in your fridge or on the countertop, but this particular model also comes with the company’s new Longlast filter. The new filters are rated to last 3x longer than their regular filters, so it can handle 120 gallons before you need to pick up a replacement. That said, your mileage will vary depending on the quality of your water.
The Longlast filter removes a bit more than the standard Brita water pitcher filters as well. It still reduces chlorine, but can also reduce mercury, asbestos, benzene, cadmium, and 99% of lead. You can also use standard filters in the dispenser, just make sure it has a proper seal. That’s one common complaint we found when pouring through user reviews, but everyone loved the filter reminder and felt the filling speed was good.
When you need more water than the average family or use filtered water for plants, animals, and cooking, this pitcher is an excellent choice. The new filters are a bonus if you need to do more than just reduce chlorine, and replacement Longlast filters are far from expensive considering a 2-pack is under $20.
4. Nakii Water Filter Pitcher
A Stylish and Affordable Filtered Pitcher
Nakii may not have the name recognition of PUR or Brita, but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly water filter pitcher, it’s hard to top their product. This stylish pitcher has several features that separate it from other affordable models, and it’s one of the only pitchers to use ACF in its filter.
This pitcher is made from BPA-free plastic and food-grade materials approved by the FDA with a unique design featuring a wooden handle. You can even fill the reservoir without ever opening the lid. At less than 4 inches wide, the ABS pitcher will easily fit into a fridge door although it’s in the small to medium class from a capacity standpoint considering it only holds around 7 ½ cups.
The reservoir is small as well at only a half-liter, but it’s one of the quicker pitchers with a flow rate of 1.3 liters per minute. Nakii’s water pitcher uses a thin 4-layer filter which includes ion exchange resin followed by ACF or activated carbon fiber. The filter is capped at both ends by a nylon pre and post-filter and rated for 150 gallons which is impressive for its size.
That filter can reduce hardness and heavy metals like mercury while removing 97% of chlorine from your tap. It’s not the best choice if you have serious water issues, but it is ideal if you just want to improve the taste while reducing lead and other rust. Every facet of this water filter pitcher has been properly certified and meets the NSF/ANSI standards 42 and 372 for chlorine and lead.
This WQA certified pitcher won’t break the bank, and we love the fact it can filter a liter of per minute. It can’t deal with fluoride or some chemicals, but the filters outlast others and are extremely cheap to replace. The only knock we have on the Nakii water filter pitcher is the small reservoir, aside from that; it’s reliable and very affordable!
5. Zero Water Filter Pitcher ZP-010
An Excellent Pitcher for Lead and Chromium Reduction
The best water filter pitchers all share common features, but some manufacturers go the extra mile. Zero Water does just that with the ZP-010, a pitcher with a 10 cup capacity and a couple of nifty tricks you won’t find elsewhere.
A quick glance lets you know the ZP-010 is different, and not just from a design standpoint. On top of the pitcher is a TDS meter which allows you to check the total dissolved solids of your water before and after its filtered. It’s usually not a good idea to include a testing tool unless you know your product lives up the hype, and this one definitely excels in one key area.
This pitcher has a 5-stage filter with a distributor layer, ion exchange array, and an active carbon layer. There is also a pre-filter and a non-woven membrane on the backend. The end result is a filter that provides 99.2% lead reduction, although it can also reduce Chromium 3 and 6 along with pesticides and suspended solids.
Another draw of this pitcher lies in the design. You can pour water the traditional way from the top or use a unique spout built into the back of their Comfort Grip handle. There is no timer on this model, so you’ll need to rely on the TDS meter or your memory when it’s time to change the filter. The system is NSF/ANSI certified and made from BPA-free materials.
There’s a lot to like about the Zero Water filter pitcher pitcher from the reasonable price tag and affordable filters to the refill rate. It does an admirable job of reducing contaminants as well, although not quite to the level of our top two choices and you may need to replace the filters frequently if your water quality is poor.
Water Filter Pitcher FAQ
Q: How long will filtration take?
A: That depends on the filter itself and the quality of the water in your home. A poor quality filter may allow water to run through like a sieve, whereas a multi-stage filter will be slower. Filters can also become clogged, which can greatly affect refill times.
Q: Can you put parts of a pitcher into a dishwasher?
A: Unless the user manual says it’s safe to do so, we advise against it. Brita and plenty of other manufacturers feel the same way.
Q: When should I change the filter in my pitcher?
A: If your pitcher has a reminder light or timer, you can use it as a guideline along with the manufacturers’ recommendation. A simple “taste test” can tell you all you need to know; however, as you will notice a difference when the filter starts to clog or fail.
Q: Are water pitcher filters recyclable?
A: It varies by manufacturer, but we’ve found several that do make recyclable filters. In fact, some have programs to encourage their users to go green!